Carnegie Mellon University
Skip navigation and jump directly to page content

April 3: Alumnus Bruce McWilliams Establishes Graduate Student Fellowship


Lauren Ward

Carnegie Mellon Alumnus Bruce McWilliams
Establishes Graduate Student Fellowship

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University alumnus Bruce McWilliams, chairman, president and CEO of Tessera Technologies; and his wife, Astrid McWilliams, have given the Mellon College of Science (MCS) more than $1 million to establish an endowed fund for the Astrid and Bruce McWilliams Fellowship in the Mellon College of Science. The fellowship will support MCS graduate students conducting leading-edge research in emerging fields such as nanotechnology, biophysics and cosmology.    

Fred Gilman, Sandeep Gaan and Bruce McWilliams"Graduate fellowships are critical for advancing our research, and this outstanding gift gives us an opportunity to invest in excellent graduate students in key research areas where MCS is having increasing impact," said Richard D. McCullough, dean of MCS and professor of chemistry. "MCS research — from advancing semiconductor design to creating fluorescent nanotags — is poised to transform the future of the electronics and biomedical industries."    

"Carnegie Mellon is one of the nation's top-ranked universities. As a student there, I received a scholarship that enabled me to pursue my scientific studies. Through this fellowship, Astrid and I hope to give back to the Mellon College of Science and its brightest minds as they make their mark on science and the industry," McWilliams said.  

Since June 1999, McWilliams has served as chief executive officer, president and a member of the board of directors of Tessera Technologies. He was named chairman of the board in February 2002. Tessera is a leading provider of miniaturization technologies for the electronics industry. Its products have helped to enable the development of smaller, higher performing and less expensive electronics for use in a variety of products. Tessera's technology can be found in a broad range of electronics, including cellular phones, computers, MP3 players, medical and defense electronics from companies like Apple, Nokia, Hewlett-Packard and Sony.     

McWilliams earned his bachelor's, master's and doctor's degrees in physics at Carnegie Mellon, and he serves on the advisory board for the Department of Physics.    

"I am extremely pleased that a physics alumnus has chosen to give back in such a generous way," said Fred Gilman, the Buhl Professor of Theoretical Physics and head of the Physics Department. "I'm looking forward to Bruce's input as the department continues to strengthen and grow."    

For the inaugural year of the Astrid and Bruce McWilliams Fellowship, McCullough is matching the award with additional funds to provide full support for three recipients. The 2007 recipients are Andrea Benvin, Sandeep Gaan and Haifeng Gao — three outstanding graduate students who are already publishing their work in top journals.  

Benvin, a chemistry doctoral student working with Associate Professor Bruce Armitage, is developing fluorescent DNA nanotags for clinical diagnostics and basic research to label and observe discrete molecular complexes within cells. Gaan, a physics doctoral student working with Professor Randy Feenstra, uses a scanning tunneling microscope to study surfaces of semiconductors that are prepared in ultra-high vacuums with organic films that have potential applications in flexible displays and thin-film transistors. Gao, a chemistry doctoral student working with J.C. Warner University Professor of Natural Sciences Kris Matyjaszewski, develops well-defined, star-like polymeric nanogels with potential uses in drug delivery, photoelectronics and specialty coatings.

[Above right: Physics Department Head Fred Gilman, grad student Sandeep Gaan and Bruce McWilliams] 


About the Mellon College of Science: The Mellon College of Science at Carnegie Mellon includes the departments of biological sciences, chemistry, mathematical sciences and physics, and serves as home to a number of interdisciplinary research centers. MCS faculty and students collaborate with other top-ranked Carnegie Mellon programs to advance research and education in emerging fields including nanotechnology, environmental science, bioimaging, biosensors and computational biology.

About Tessera Technologies Inc.: Tessera is a leading provider of miniaturization technologies for the electronics industry. Tessera provides a broad range of advanced packaging, interconnect, and consumer optics solutions which are widely adopted in high-growth markets including consumer, computing, communications, medical and defense electronics. Tessera's customers include the world's top semiconductor companies, such as Intel, Samsung, Texas Instruments, Toshiba, Micron and Infineon. The company's stock is traded on the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol TSRA. Tessera is headquartered in San Jose, Calif., and has offices around the world. For more information, visit